COMMENTARY: Look back in wonder – the building of an alternative news media infrastructure
Published: September 25th, 2012
Washington, D.C. — Brent Bozell and the Media Research Center’s leadership will gather Thursday to celebrate 25 years of holding the mainstream news media accountable for its worst excesses.
For most of those years, I’ve served as one of Brent’s judges in the annual “Notable Quotables” collection of the best — worst, that is — examples of bias in reporting.
In addition to highlighting the lowlights of American journalism, a serious award will be presented, the William F. Buckley Award for Excellence. Past winners include Brit Hume, M. Stanton Evans, Cal Thomas and the late Tony Snow.
What a long and invigorating ride this quarter century has been.
“Judicial” highlights for the Media Research Center are many, but a couple of them stand out.
In 1999, recognizing an “achievement” earlier in the decade, Julianne Malveaux “won” a special honor from MRC — namely the “I’m a Compassionate Liberal But I Wish You Were All Dead Award.”
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas accepted the award, in less-than-fond memory of Malveaux’s 1994 declaration, “[Clarence Thomas] is on the Court. You know, I hope his wife feeds him lots of eggs and butter and he dies early like many black men do, of heart disease. Well, that’s how I feel. He is an absolutely reprehensible person.”
Malveaux was at the time a columnist for USA Today and Pacifica Radio. The left-wing economist went on, from 2007 until a few weeks ago, to serve as president of Bennett College for women in North Carolina.
She garnered further infamy for reflections on the Duke lacrosse case, in which she rhetorically convicted three young white men. They were ultimately exonerated and the lead prosecutor in the case was disbarred. Alas, there was no way to ban Malveaux from either commentary or higher education.
More recently, columnist Paul Krugman of The New York Times declared, on September 11, 2011, that “what happened after” the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, was “deeply shameful.” He deemed Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani and George W. Bush “fake heroes.”
He also wrote on his Times blog: “The memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame. And in its heart, the nation knows it.” It was a slam dunk: Krugman won the 2011 “quote of the year” from the Media Research Center.
People can and do disagree about the wars that followed 9/11. Some people disagree with themselves: Barack Obama, for example, was against the war on terror until he was for it.
Still, one of the things that “happened” after 9/11 was that my middle son volunteered for the U.S. Army, where he served the Third Infantry Division and became the first combat medic at the airport in Baghdad in 2003. He was like tens of thousands who volunteered and served after 9/11, as they have in every generation.
When Bozell first asked me to serve as a judge in the late 1980s, I worked at Paul Weyrich’s Free Congress Foundation in Washington, engaging in both judicial policy research and as editor of the Initiative and Referendum Report, later the Family, Law & Democracy Report.
Weyrich wanted straight news of the sort he had practiced in radio with colleagues like Roger Mudd — but he wanted the news analyzed and delivered by a fellow conservative: me.
Until that newsletter faded from the scene after I returned to Oklahoma in 1990, it was a top source of information about the politics of the initiative, referendum and recall.
It turns out that my longest recurring professional affiliation is with Bozell and the MRC. They record every national news broadcast and scour the nation’s newspapers to see what is actually put on the air or in print.
The judges get the “greatest hits” of all that raw material, and we choose the annual Notable Quotables in categories like “Tea Party Terrorists,” the “Obamagasm,” “Damn Those Conservatives” and the “Barbara Streisand Political IQ Award for Celebrity Vapidity.”
Bozell and his bunch, including the other Brent (Baker), deliver red meat, 24/7. I honor their work, and am proud to be part of it in a small way, year after year.
Now, at the Franklin Center that sponsors CapitolBeatOK, I have entered the adventure of non-profit journalism, still looking for the truth as best I can discern it, and reporting it.